All About Microsites
The hub of any sales and marketing effort.
What is a Microsite?
A Microsite is a website, distinct and separate from an organization’s main site, that delivers more focused, relevant content about a specific topic or to a targeted audience or even just requiring a defined action.
Example uses could be for a product, a service, a timely promotion, or an upcoming event – among many other possibilities.
In business terms, a Microsite is a marketing tool. Used by companies of all sizes to help meet sales and marketing objectives.
For most organizations, it is not your main website – which probably took years to build, created an irreparable schism between your marketing and IT departments, and needs to accommodate many objectives and stakeholders, from H.R. and recruiting to customer inquiries and legal.
A Microsite can have a stand-alone vanity or promotional web address (called a URL) like subservientchicken.com. Or it can be hosted in a subdomain on a company’s main website like this one for Bud Light’s Up For Whatever campaign: http://www.budlight.com/up-for-whatever.html. (The sometimes temporary nature of Microsites means that once wonderful URLs can become dead-ends like these.)
A Microsite can be any size and use any technology. It can be a lot of things, but first and foremost, it is a marketing tool. And that has substantial consequences for the way it’s designed, built, and managed.
The microsite Story
history of microsites
Our story of how it all began.
In 1999, we were helping Sony launch a new Handycam camcorder model. We had planned on using the internet for promotional purposes and were short on time. Making changes to the main Sony U.S. site was quite challenging. Plus, we wouldn’t be able to put any messaging on the home page.
So we convinced the Handycam team to build a separate site with its own web address that would reinforce the promotion’s name. We could build that site quickly and not involve any Sony IT personnel. Plus the marketing team would have near total control.
It would obviously have fewer pages than Sony’s main site or even the Handycam section. We justified its independence to Sony’s upper management by calling it a “Microsite” and describing it as a promotional tool similar to a print ad or brochure.
Certainly, the Microsite had many births across the Internet around the same time. And many defined it differently for their own business situations. But there is no mandatory specifications, functionalities, size – anything – that a site requires to be a Microsite.
About the only thing you can say is that a Microsite is not your organization’s main website. The rest is however you define it.
How Microsites evolved within the marketing department
It’s generally accepted that the first Microsites were launched around 1999 when marketers were looking to put up web pages quickly to complement traditional advertising efforts. When their internal I.T. departments proved too slow or resistant to accommodate their needs, marketers found it simply easier to build a separate, standalone site that would be under their complete control and meet their accelerated timetables.
Many consider Burger King’s Subservient Chicken Microsite the first true breakthrough success. Launched on April 8, 2004, to promote BK’s TenderCrisp chicken sandwich and to reinforce the “Have it your way” tagline, the site featured a man dressed in a chicken costume who performed a wide range of actions based on commands typed in by people visiting the site. The site garnered more than 750,000 unique visitors in its first three months and became the talk of the marketing community.
Other major advertisers quickly jumped on the Microsite bandwagon and produced such wildly popular sites as Philips’ shaveeverywhere.com (no longer active) for its body grooming products, Blendtec’s willitblend.com highlighting the power of its industrial strength blenders, and perhaps the all time king of Microsite traffic, OfficeMax’s elfyourself.com, which as far as anyone could tell promoted elves.
While these sites were experiencing traffic in the millions and dominating the headlines in the trades, hundreds of thousands of marketers across the country were launching much simpler sites to deliver more focused, relevant content to targeted audience segments.
Some sites were set up with vanity or independent web addresses, like Procter & Gamble’s beinggirl.com, while others were hosted in subdomains of primary websites, like Stride Gum’s savethearcades.stridegum.com (no longer active).
The microsite Story
benefits of microsites
4. niche marketing
5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
6. Higher Conversion Rates
8. Viral or Word of Mouth
9. Firewall to Protect Your Company
10. Not Perishable
11. Achieve success
The microsite Story
why not just use facebook?
One word: Control.
Facebook Pages offer a great many benefits, but you don’t control it. Facebook does. And you are therefore subject to the whims of that organization. Facebook controls the medium, the data, even access to your own information. And what may be good and working for you today may be changed or gone tomorrow. “Hey, what happened to my database of customers?”Think this is unrealistic, check out this story: Facebook In Control